Go Pick on Someone Else

Don’t bully consumers with overbearing ads. Such a hard-sell approach will just bring back unhappy childhood memories for them. That’s the moral we draw from a Zogby poll that asked adults to recall the experience (if any) they had with bullies when they were kids. Although just 10 percent said they were “often” targeted by bullies (see the chart), 62 percent answered “yes” when asked, “Was there ever a time in your childhood when you stood up to a bully even at the risk of physical harm to yourself?” This number alone suggests such incidents are more vivid than the many occurrences that loom large in childhood but fade as we grow up. If adults remember their brave resistance to bullying, so do they recall the times they knuckled under. Thus, the poll’s most intriguing query: “Looking back, was there ever a time in your childhood when you did not stand up to a bully, and have regretted not doing so?” Nearly one respondent in three (32 percent) answered “yes.” How would adults advise their kids to handle a bully? While most would counsel one sort or another of nonviolent resistance, 16 percent would tell the kid to “fight back.” The figure rose to 22 percent among 18-29-year-olds, versus 13 percent among respondents age 30-49.